Short sighted, myopic or smart? – the need to carry eye protection and particulate masks

Short Sighted, Myopic or just Smart?

When California decided to go up in flames one of the commonest scenes was people fleeing the fires many of these victims found themselves struggling to SEE as they fled, Soot, Smoke, Red hot cinders, Volatile organics from burning fuel and melting plastics all contributed to leave people struggling to SEE.

When the same scenario unfolded in Australia torching homes and millions of eucalyptus trees which in turn released huge amounts of hot vaporized oil that burnt everything.

Equally many of these very same people found themselves struggling to breath as dust, soot, embers, smoke, particulates etc that entered their airways from the conflagration that was everywhere around and above them..

Lets move to 911, The Towers burned then collapsed throwing tens of thousands of tons of FILTH, debris, particulates, smoke, burning oils, plastics, insulation, concrete dust, powdered glass, toxic materials etc blinding and choking the fleeing survivors of that tragedy

When multiple bombs ( be they car, truck, rucksack or other) are detonated in our towns or cities throwing toxic debris into the air as people try to escape., 

When that freight train carrying volatiles derails and explodes launching up to 15 thousands tons of burning heavy oil into the air in your community.

When the hotel or tower block you are in bursts into flames and the corridors fill with smoke and soot.

When 500,000 tons of abandoned fertilizer exploded in Beirut vaporizing concrete buildings for ½ a mile and converting thousands of glass windows into supersonic abrasive powdered grit.

When a massive drought triggers dust storms in the US, Australia or the Middle east lifting millions of tons of soil or sand into the air turning day to night with choking particles that sweeps through your township.

When your local volcano belches a few million tons of ASH, Sulphers, C02 and other nasties 30,000 ft into the air only for it to fall and blanket your town with 2 ft of ash.

When the air stops circulating over cities like Beijing and the pollution levels rocket to a point you cannot see 500 yards and the air stings your throat.

Dont you honestly think that carrying Eye protection and particulate masks in your kit makes sense??

Come on folks FIND the space in your gear, your life could depend on it.


  • Comments (20)

    • 4

      I hope you don’t mind me changing the title to this topic a little. This new title will give some context of what the topic is about.

      Great topic and certainly an overlooked prep. Sure most of us carry basic cloth masks everywhere we go today, but those will do little to harsh toxic fumes like you talk about. Eye protection is critically important, without use of your eyes you put yourself in greater risk of more injuries and death. 

      What kind of eye protection do you recommend?

      • 6

        Fine by me Gideon.

    • 7

      I keep boxes of safety glasses plus several half face respirators in storage, with lots of replacement filters.  I stock in all sizes.  Plus I have cases of n95 masks.  I do keep the masks in my truck but not any eye protection.  I will fix that tomorrow.  Thanks for the heads up!

      Not something I would put in my get home bag in the truck but certainly something that needs to be in the truck.

      • 7

        I wont go anywhere near a city without at least a dust mask or two and some shatterproof script tinted eye glasses. I wear the shades all the time and the fabric masks are in my jacket pocket.

    • 6

      I carry masks on me and in the van and now thanks to your article, will be adding eye protection. 

      My mask supply was recently ramped up to include full face shields due to the new Covid-19 variants that have greater ease of tranmission. I just received the Uvex Bionic Face Shields and the 3M retractable shields with extra shields for each, in addition to N95s with exhaust valves already on hand.

      I will be adding safety glasses to my next order and carrying those as well.

      Thank you, Bill.

    • 8

      It’s a difficult matter to address but most important.

      An intro comment: Our COVID pandemic protocol keeps the infected out of hospitals – except – for those with respiratory failure.  The protocol is easy enough to understand.

      Hurricane winds propel sand even from road areas so forcefully it’s like sandpaper rubbing against one’s face.

      Volcano vapors are like breathing microscopic razor blades.

      The US military’s R&D labs are working on an armored HAZMAT suit.

      The east Texas Gulf Coast, Beaumont-Port Arthur area, has plants catch fire and the billowing smoke requires evacuations.  

      My only protection is an ILC brand S-Cape hood with 30 minutes of breathing time. Less purchasing what the professional firefighters use , the S-Cape hood can be the only realistic private citizen hood that can fit over a hard hat and allow for talking. The professional stuff is $$$ and usually is organization-purchased. We had some of this gear on the oil rigs.

      Only because I’m old and decided to allocate the funds needed for descendants do I avoid this requirement.

      • 5

        Guys lets remember that often ANYTHING is better than NOTHING, so even a cloth mask, or a bandana, or a shemargh, or silk scarf ( NOTHING SYNTHETIC THAT CAN MELT)  and a pair of wrap around shades will help a bit, as will a BB cap if worn with shades to REDUCE nasty particulates.  I’m simply trying to make the case you EDC some sort of mouth / nose / eye protection.

      • 7

        Good point about synthetics melting. A scarf in the right size could also be used as a sling or improvised bandage.

      • 4

        Bob, do you know if firefighters sell their old equipment? If so, that could be a smart idea to call around to your local FD’s and ask if they will be selling any old stuff soon. While it is used and probably doesn’t offer the protection needed for active firefighting, it probably is still better than most of us citizens could have. 

        Or maybe making friends with a fire fighter about to retire and get his old gear.

      • 8

        Conrad, Can’t speak for the overall environment but here with both professional firefigher orgs at the big cities and the rural counties with volunteer departments, the old equipment is typically kept for the auxillery volunteers.

        Of course having friends, contacts works wonders.

    • 7

      After the £$%^&*%$ IRA tried to kill me and my son in the 80’s I have made room in my expeditionary bag for what I would call an evac kit.

      It’s very basic, containing a pair of swimming goggles, a disposable poncho a couple of FFP2 masks, a couple of pairs of disposable gloves and earplugs. It’s part of the kit I beef up my EDC with when I have to travel to London or Birmingham for work seminars. In 20years I’ve never used it, but it takes up such a small amount of space and is so light, I don’t begrudge it the room. 

      • 4

        I was in KX London when the IRA bombed canary wharf, it really focused my mind on city preps, The main one now is where possible is to not go to cities.

      • 10

        I like your evac kit, Linnet. I am adding ear plugs, which we already have on hand for when working with power tools. Thank you.

      • 7

        I agree with the pair of ear plugs. One day while at work they were testing the fire alarms and we had to keep working while they were going off. I didn’t think it would have been that big of a deal, but after 10-15 minutes of that loud alarm, my ears seriously started to hurt and I couldn’t hear 100% for like two days after. Ever since then, i’ve always carried a pair of those cheap disposable ear plugs in my EDC. Don’t mess with your hearing!

      • 4

        I put them in my kit after a similar situation happened to me, I found the noise at the time really disorientating and thought about how it would be trying to evacuate a building with that racket going on, I can see how people could get lost.

      • 8

        Conrad and Linnet – Your comments about noise, the disorientation and building evacuation brings up the issue of how well does the emergency equipment work in a building, particularly office towers.

        I once worked on the 9th floor of an office building. The fire alarms went off. We had our procedures to evacuate via multiple exits, however, when our group went to the stairwell, it was pitch black and everyone else was gone. To further complicate things, we couldn’t for the life of us understand a word that was coming over the PA system in the stairwell. It was distorted and beyond comprehension.

        We were a group of 4 women, one of whom was heavily pregnant at 8+ months. There was only one bannister to hold on to. We made the decision to decend with one person behind Colleen (who was pregnant) to catch her if she tripped, another person beside her for the same reason and the other person in front of her to act as a soft place for her to land if she fell forward. We descended in unions calling”step” “step” as we moved and gave Colleen time to rest on the landings.

        As we descended, we could smell smoke getting stronger. We decided to try for a better stairwell and were able to finally cross over to the other side of the building and get to the street at last.

        Since that incident, I have never trusted or entirely relied upon how well someone maintains a commercial building of any kind and I started to carry a flashlight.

      • 3

        Ubique, The Twin towers, they did not collapse immediately but it is reported by survivors that many Emergency messages used by different companies to people to STAY IN PLACE and wait for the Fire/ Rescue. Only those who ignored the automated warning survived.

        In London Grenfel tower was destroyed by fire, a fire that spread because the building had been clad EXTERNALLY with flammable materials which simply bypassed the fire supression and control systems. IT GETS WORSE.

        Many people phone 999 (uks 911) to report the fire and the  Fire and Rescue service told them ALL to stay in place. Most died waiting for rescue, the only survivors were those who ignored the REMAIN IN PLACE order.

      • 5

        Hi Bill, I didn’t know that the folks in Twin Towers were told to wait by an automated warning – how awful.

        I remember the Grenfel tower fire. Waiting was the very worst thing they could have done.

        I wonder how many of them in both fires had strong instincts to evacuate but chose to ignore it. What an awful final thought: “I should have listened to my instincts and left.”

      • 7

        Some not all, most businesses had their own emergency protocols, I think it was those who were UNDER the impact areas who the system told to wait who died unneccessarily, I THINK those above the impact zones mainly could not get passed the damaged floors. BUT PLEASE DONT HOLD ME TO THAT. I just remember the documentary on Discovery how some survivors said the automated message in their business office said WAIT FOR RESCUE.   And lets not forget many many very brave firemen, medics and cops WERE trying to save them but the bloody buildings collapsed first.

        Anyway both tragedies are tragedies we must LEARN FROM, me I’m a confirmed coward when it comes to fire in big buildings, An alarm goes off and I’m not waiting for anyone, I’m outa there.

      • 4

        Understood that it is unconfirmed. Too many brave souls died on that terrible day. We can honour them by learning from event.

        I agree, in a fire, I prefer to remove myself and quickly. In the office tower, we were 2 stories above what the tallest equipment could reach at the time. We had to make it down at least 2 stories just to get rescued if needed.

        There is nothing cowardly about exercising good judgement and common sense.